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Coronavirus: What Cruisers Need to Know
Coronavirus: What Cruisers Need to Know
Foreign And Commonwealth Office Advises Against All Cruise Travel
Ship Exterior (Photo: Cruise Critic)

Foreign And Commonwealth Office Advises Against All Cruise Travel

Foreign And Commonwealth Office Advises Against All Cruise Travel
Ship Exterior (Photo: Cruise Critic)

July 10, 2020

Adam Coulter
UK Managing Editor
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(11:36 a.m. BST) -- In a huge blow for cruising's tentantive restart, the FCO has advised against all cruise travel "at this time".

In March the FCO advised against cruise travel for the over-70s and anyone with underlying health conditions as the coronavirus pandemic swept the world.

But yesterday's blanket advice covers all ages and all types of cruises and is based on Public Health England's risk assessment.

Although just a handful of lines have resumed operations, including Hurtigruten in Norway, and some river lines, it casts doubt on other lines restarting anytime soon.

The FCO published the following statement yesterday:

"The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time. This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.

"The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.

"If you have future cruise travel plans, you should speak to your travel operator, or the travel company you booked with, for further advice.

"The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel."

The statement comes on the eve of restrictions being lifted for foreign travel on Saturday. It also means that travek insurance will not be valid while the advice stays in place.

Cruise lines and cruise travel agents reacted with a combination of shock and anger at the announcement.

P&O Cruises has suspended all sailings until October 15. It released the following statement on Twitter:

"We acknowledge the FCO’s guidance and P&O Cruises had already extended the pause in operations for all sailings up to October 15, 2020.

"Our current focus is to work in partnership with public health agencies at the highest level as well as Department for Transport; EU Healthy Gateways and CLIA, the industry governing body.

"We will follow applicable guidelines to further enhance our already stringent measures to keep our guests and crew healthy and well and we will not resume sailings until this framework is in place."

In a live chat with TTG, Miles Morgan of Miles Morgan Travel said: "To come up with something as mad as this makes no sense.

"To me it shows a total lack of understanding of the sector. It's laughable, but it is consistent with the appalling way we have been treated throughout this."

He added: "Most people are more sensible than the people who have made this decision."

When Are Cruise Lines Around the World Expected To Resume Service?

Short term he felt that this announcement would "put the kybosh" on UK passengers looking forward to taking a river cruise anytime soon.

Edwina Lonsdale of Mundy Cruising heaped praise on cruise lines for how responsible they have been throughout this pandemic.

"No cruise line will restart without strict health protocols in place," she said. "We have got a really responsible industry working collaboratively, and yet the FCO can put out this advice without even acknowledging how much hard work is going on."

She called out all the initiatives that cruise lines are doing including working with the EU on establishing healthy guidelines as well as Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean teaming up to establish new health protocols and MSC Cruises setting up a Blue Ribbon Task Force.

Dale Sourbutts of Cruise 1st said: "Cruising is going to be the safest holiday to take place bar none and we have got to get that across to consumers."

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